I have absolutely no shame about using online dating sites. I know some people are embarrassed about it or are scared to try it, but online dating is a great way to meet people. I write a lot about my online dating experiences, and even though I do encounter some odd messages (my Instagram account @onlinedatingtruths is proof), the people I actually meet up with in real life have been great. I’ve truly only had one weird experience. But it definitely does take work to sort through the weirdos to find quality people.
This prompts the questions: how do you get good at online dating? How do you use it as a tool without getting overwhelmed? How do you sort through the dipsy doodles to find the gems? I’ve realized a few things over the course of my online dating travels that I think may prove useful:
- First impressions really do count: I’m pretty judgmental about a person’s first message. If they’re giving you “hi whats up?” they’re clearly firing off batches of the same message at a time and aren’t taking online dating/dating you seriously.
- Be picky: My parents and friends are always on my case about how picky I am, but when it comes to meeting strangers on the Internet, I think this is important. I’m not saying you should have a two-page list of requirements that a person has to meet before you’ll go on a date, but don’t be afraid to set some ground rules. I want someone ages 25-35(ish) with a college degree who doesn’t smoke, isn’t super religious, has never been married, and has no kids. Those are the basics. Of course there are other traits, a good sense of humor and intelligence, for example, but when you have a few essentials in place it makes it easier to weed out people you just won’t be compatible with.
- But not too picky: When I first started online dating I was incredibly quick to toss out potential candidates based on dumb things. Then I realized a.) some people are intelligent but suck at writing and b.) people are nervous on dates. My new rule is to give someone the benefit of the doubt. If the first date was decent, try a second one. They may loosen up and be more fun.
- Don’t take it so personally: Online dating is a gift and a curse. It’s a gift in that it lets you meet tons of people you probably wouldn’t encounter otherwise. It’s a curse in that you can exchange a few e-mails or even go on a couple of dates with someone and then things just fizzle out. At first this can be hard to understand. That’s why you have to go into online dating with a “go with the flow” mentality. Don’t take it personally, and don’t get heavily invested in someone early on. Last year I was having a great conversation with a guy I met online. We were in the planning stages of our first date when suddenly he just fell off the face of the earth. Old Lauren would have been like “What did I do wrongggg? Oh my Godddd” but by that point I’d realized it’s just part of the culture. See online dating as an opportunity for meeting people, but don’t let it make or break your self-esteem.
- Give your profile some depth: You like reading? Cool, what have you read recently? What’s a little-known-fact about you that someone might find amusing? For instance, my OkCupid profile explains that I was minutes away from being crowned Spelling Bee Champion in second grade but then I spelled “farm” as “fram.” It still haunts me to this day. Guys seem to find that amusing. Add a little personality and humor to your profile. You’re unique, so show it.
Lastly, don’t fire off a list of requirements for potential suitors. I see people doing this a lot and I find it off-putting. They’ll write “NO trainwrecks please” or “NOT into drama.” I get it, we all have traits we’re trying to avoid in a partner. But putting them out there so firmly like that makes you seem intense and jaded. Keep it fun, light, and happy.